How we test and review security products

At PrivacySavvy, we always strive to include every best tool on our site that enhances users’ online security.

From passwords to the entire internet traffic, every bit of you, as a free internet user, deserves privacy and security. Therefore, we input all our efforts to test every software before it gets a place on or site.

Every virtual private network (VPN) service, antivirus software, password manager, ad blocker, web browser, and any other tool, go through a rigorous review process by our team.

That’s how we ensure recommending the best of the best privacy tools to you.

To give you a hint of how we test these security tools, we elaborate on our review policy and methodology below.

Creating unbiased reviews

We never go for biased, opinionated, promotional, and paid reviews. Our sole policy for reviewing any software revolves around its independent assessment to create an unbiased review.

For this, we do not accept offers from the vendors to review their products. Instead, we test dozens of software and apps in a specific niche to analyze them ourselves.

After that, we write down our honest opinion about the product based on our experience.

To make things clear for our readers and help them decide better, we separately mention the tools’ pros and cons.

Self-testing security tools

We never use any complimentary services or user accounts created by the vendor to test a product. 

Instead, every product is tested by our team.

We complete all subscription procedures, including service fee payments, to acquire a product in the same way an average customer would. This helps us better judge the suitability of the tool for our readers.

Moreover, we never limit our testing capabilities to a single tool. Instead, we test dozens of similar tools to select only the best software and apps.

Hence, you can trust that whatever products we recommend at PrivacySavvy would surely meet your needs.

Our criteria to assess quality

To help you understand how we select a tool, below, we quickly list the critical parameters for our analysis.

1. Product accessibility

It will be of no use to recommend a product to anyone if it isn’t readily accessible.

By accessibility, we mean the ease of subscribing to a service. 

In the case of free software, we assess how easy it is to download a product, how long the account registration process is, and what type of users can download it.

Whereas, for paid products, in addition to all these features, we assess the payment methods as well. Ideally, a good paid VPN, password manager, or any other tool should support multiple payment options. Whereas security tools like VPNs should also support cryptocurrency payments.

Also, the provision of free trials and a money-back guarantee is another option that we analyze for paid tools.

For PrivacySavvy, any product that doesn’t offer free trials, has limited subscription plans, specific payment methods, and confusing sign-up procedures lose points here.

2. Installation process

After you download a product, how would it feel if you keep figuring out how to install it on your device for hours? 

We know this is irritating. That’s why we consider those software and apps the best ones that get quickly installed on a device with little to no user interaction.

It doesn’t mean we prefer stealth installation that most malicious products would do. Instead, for us, the best products are the ones that have clear-cut installation instructions, require minimal clicks from the users, and get set up on the device in a short time.

If any tool lacks these features, such as if it takes centuries to install, has ambiguous instructions, or conducts stealth installation, we never recommend it.

To be sure about this step, we test every product on our devices reserved for software testing.

3. User Interface (ease of use)

The user interface is the first thing that attracts or distracts a user. Therefore, the best apps and tools never bear a boring interface. Instead, they have precise labels for options, easily accessible settings, and specific control options. 

For instance, an ideal VPN should present the user with available servers at the very first step. Also, it should offer the option to choose a specific VPN protocol.

Likewise, an antivirus should have readily accessible settings for quick and full scans and real-time protection.

Hence, the best apps for PrivacySavvy are the ones that win points here with a simple and interactive user interface. Apps with flat design, complicated or highly technical interface, and poor navigation never impress us.

4. Features offered

Every app or tool providing a specific functionality does come with the much-needed essential features. For example, a password manager would always have to option to store passwords. A VPN would always offer at least one server to change the IP address. 

However, while creating our reviews, we consider the other features that essentially make an app stand out. 

For example, an ideal password manager should also help in creating healthy and unique passwords. Whereas, a credible VPN must offer a wide list of servers to change location, should apply robust encryption protocols to warrant anonymity, and must have a kill switch to avoid incidental exposure to the web. 

So, in a nutshell, the extent of features offered by a tool is what we consider a major scoring factor. We never recommend apps lacking basic settings or offering outdated features.

5. Product security

Often, malware and spyware attacks happen when the threat actors either infect a legit app or create their own apps mimicking the legit ones. Many times, these apps remain online and prey on millions of users globally before being caught.

Similarly, the threat actors breach into the security of popular tools for various malicious purposes.

As privacy enthusiasts, we understand how cyber criminals remain on the hunt. Therefore, while testing a tool, we assess the security measures protecting it, the vendors’ security policies, previous history of data/security breaches, and the companies’ response to the breaches.

If a tool has shady security practices or poor security history, it fails to reach our review list.

6. Customer data security

Data logging and retention are the things that most privacy-savvy netizens worry about. In fact, this is the crucial reason why apps like VPNs and adblockers have gained popularity. 

But what if those products also start collecting your data?

At PrivacySavvy, we actively advocate the importance of data privacy for every internet user. Therefore, we only pay attention to and recommend those services that also respect your privacy like us. Also, we clearly mention the data retention policies of the tools we review.

7. Speed and performance

A common problem with most security tools like web proxies, secure browsers, VPNs, and antimalware solutions is the speed lags. If these services are true to their functionalities, they often perform at compromised speeds, something that the average end-users don’t like.

We know how annoying this can be. Hence, the apps’ speed and overall performance is a significant factor in our scoring methodology.

Again, we test every tool at our own devices and perform various load tests to see how they perform under stress. Then we only recommend the ones that deliver impressive performance in our tests.

8. Support for web services

Tools like VPNs have the core of their functionality revolving around web services.

For instance, VPNs work by rerouting the internet traffic and thus bypassing site blockages. Their core functionality here is to stay under the radar from website tracking.

Likewise, antivirus solutions monitor websites for any malicious content.

So, if the VPNs don’t help access blocked content or the antimalware solutions don’t detect phishing websites simply because they lack support for some web services, then the services become useless.

Therefore, at PrivacySavvy, we analyze whether a tool exhibits tremendous support for web services. Only the well-performing software and apps get a place in our reviews.

9. Cross-platform compatibility

Today, every internet user possesses more than one device that runs on different platforms. So, when such users want to download a security tool, they need to have it across all of their devices. That’s what the best antivirus software, best VPNs, best password managers, best adblockers, and other best security tools take care of.

And the same is what we test while creating our reviews. 

Eventually, we recommend only those tools that at least support the major platforms like Windows, iOS, macOS, and Android.

10. Customer support

The last key factor in our criterion for reviewing tools is the service’s customer support.

Whether it’s a VPN, a proxy, a password manager, or something else, it should ideally offer strong customer support.

The options like 24/7 live chat, support tickets, prompt email responses are the things that attract customers. In fact, vigilant customer support would even attract more users to an otherwise difficult-to-use tool.

We know how annoying it feels if you’re stuck in the middle of your work just because your respective software broke down, and you have no one to contact. So, we always give top priority to the tools offering prompt support.

Though, the list can go longer if we explicitly mention the key factors we assess while reviewing any tool. Nonetheless, to make things more straightforward, we elaborated on the significant factors here.

For details about the best privacy tools we recommend, please visit our archives.